What Are You Selling? To attract clients, your practice needs to stand out from the competition. Here’s how to get noticed. In Private Practice
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In Private Practice  |   December 01, 2015
What Are You Selling?
Author Notes
  • Carol Polovoy is managing editor of The ASHA Leader. cpolovoy@asha.org
    Carol Polovoy is managing editor of The ASHA Leader. cpolovoy@asha.org×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosodic Disorders / Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Healthcare Settings / Practice Management / Professional Issues & Training / Speech, Voice & Prosody / In Private Practice
In Private Practice   |   December 01, 2015
What Are You Selling?
The ASHA Leader, December 2015, Vol. 20, 34-35. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.20122015.34
The ASHA Leader, December 2015, Vol. 20, 34-35. doi:10.1044/leader.IPP.20122015.34
This article is adapted from “Private Practice Essentials: A Practical Guide for Speech-Language Pathologists” (Chapter 4, “Marketing and Promoting Your Practice”), edited by Janet Brown and Denise Dougherty. Available from ASHA Press.
“If you build it, he will come” may work in fanciful baseball movies, but it’s not necessarily true for your private practice. Unless you’re the only game in town, you’re going to need to market your services. And a key part of that marketing is telling potential clients why your practice is their best choice.
In marketing-speak, that message is called product positioning and branding—developing a message that appeals to your target audience. Start by defining the breadth and depth of your services, which will help you create your value proposition—that is, how you will solve your clients’ problems and why they should come to you.
Describe services in tangible terms
What products or services do you offer? Audiology and speech-language pathology services and their benefits are largely intangible, so you want to describe the tangible benefits you can deliver. Potential clients, for example, want to know that they can be more independent and productive. Third-party payers might want to know how the service provides functional client outcomes and high customer satisfaction at a reasonable cost.
Point out differences
What unique features characterize your services? Will you travel to a client’s home or day care provider? Do you offer evening appointments? Do you have specialized expertise?
Consider the following advantages (you can probably think of others): your knowledge or experience, competitive pricing, convenient hours, prompt scheduling, related services offered in the same location, outcomes or results, new technology, clinical specialties, association with a well-regarded hospital, physician or clinic, exceptional customer service, or special awards or recognition.

The value proposition is your unique selling point, the key reason why a client should come to you rather than your competitor. It outlines what you can offer the client.

Develop internal guides
After you understand your strengths, your service, your customers’ needs and your competition, you can create your value proposition and your positioning statement. These statements are for internal use and should guide your marketing efforts, but are not necessarily to be shared with your target market.
The value proposition is your unique selling point, the key reason why a client should come to you rather than your competitor. It outlines what you can offer the client. It focuses on what you are promising customers, and the benefits that they receive by using your service. For example, if you offer fluency services, the benefits might be easier communication leading to increased self-confidence.
In contrast, positioning statements are a subset of value propositions. They take the different segments of your market and define a product’s advantages—versus those of competitors—for those potential clients. You may have different positioning statements depending on the clients you are trying to attract.
A statement designed to land a contract with a school system, for example, would be different from a statement designed to attract clients to your fee-for-service pre-reading program.
A good positioning statement clearly differentiates you from your competitors. You can use the positioning statement to check whether your planned marketing activities and messages fit your brand.
Here’s a guide to creating your positioning statement with five elements: target audience, company, point of differentiation, frame of reference, and reason to believe.
Example: For nonnative English speakers working in corporate environments [target audience], SpeakClearly [your company] is the most convenient [point of differentiation] accent modification provider [frame of reference] because we will come to your place of work at a time to suit you [reason to believe].
Example: For children who stutter [target audience], SpeakClearly [your company] is the most highly skilled [point of differentiation] treatment provider [frame of reference] because our clinicians all have specialized training in fluency problems [reason to believe].

Use a version of your elevator speech when anyone asks what you do—parents at a soccer game, your dentist or optometrist, or strangers at a party. If you speak with true passion for your clients, you will inspire rather than sound like a self-promoter.

Pare it down
When you are happy with your positioning statement (and it may take some time to get it right), you can further distill it into a one-sentence tagline to use in your marketing messages and your “elevator speech”—a 30-second description of your business, its focus, and its benefits delivered with passion and enthusiasm to leave an impression on your listener. Your elevator speech should be easy to understand—no jargon, specialist terminology or acronyms!
Use a version of your elevator speech when anyone asks what you do—parents at a soccer game, your dentist or optometrist, or strangers at a party. If you speak with true passion for your clients, you will inspire rather than sound like a self-promoter. People will remember you if they need your services or if a friend or family member is looking for a recommendation. Don’t be shy about offering your business cards at the end of the conversation.
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FROM THIS ISSUE
December 2015
Volume 20, Issue 12